Home recording tips for DIY musicians
May 3, 2016
Home recording is an essential practice of the true DIY musician and offers an inexpensive and convenient way to get your music ready to be heard by a mass audience. To help you start recording your own music from home, we compiled some basic home recording tips for DIY musicians.
In the absence of a professional studio engineer, it’s down to you to create studio-quality recordings in the humble setting of your bedroom, basement or back room! To help you get started, we wanted to share advice on some of the most important aspects of home recording (without going into too much technical detail), so you can avoid the most common mistakes and come away with a mix that you’re proud of.
Create the ideal recording environment
The natural acoustics of your recording space can make or break your final track. Hard surfaces are notorious for creating awful echoes on your recording; so it is crucial remove any reflective surfaces like concrete or tiled walls from your immediate environment.
Ideally, you’ll want to cover every surface in a soft material in order to deaden the acoustics of the room. You could use carpets, curtains and foam panels to stop your sound from bouncing around. Many studios cover their walls in specially designed but relatively cheap acoustic foam, which is easy to find online and will help to absorb the sound for a higher quality recording.
Acoustic foam panels on the walls help to deaden the sound for a higher quality recording
Get the right gear for your music
The hardware that you’ll need for your home recording will depend on the type of music you're producing. Recording vocals is vastly different from recording drums at home (and much less complicated!), so if you’re an acoustic singer/songwriter you’ll have a much easier job on your hands then a six-piece pirate metal ensemble!
There are so many options when it comes to microphones, monitors and headphones, each with its own list of benefits and flaws. When researching the best gear for your home recording, consult online forums and shop around. As a very basic piece of advice; remember to use a microphone with a frequency response which is appropriate for the frequency range of the sound you’re trying to record.
You may also benefit from taking a trip to your local music shop and speaking to a professional face to face about your needs and expectations. There’s no need to break the bank either! Look around for a good deal and remember, the most expensive kit isn’t always the best for home recording.
Drum mics require much more set-up when compared to recording vocals or guitars!
Experiment with microphone positioning
The art of microphone positioning is a crucial part of getting the best out of your home recording. The position of the microphone can seriously affect your overall sound, so it is important to place yourself and your mic in the optimal position.
The optimal position of a microphone, however, is debatable and will depend on the recording environment as well as the specific sounds you are trying to capture. It's important to experiment with the position of your mic to find the sound you’re looking for. There’s plenty that can affect what your mic picks up, including the sound radiation of your instrument, the acoustics of your room and the characteristic of the microphone itself. Again, carrying out some research into your particular brand of microphone is the best way to work out how you should position it for recording.
Experiment with the position of your microphone to achieve the sound you're looking for
Mixing and mastering your sound
Mixing and mastering your tracks can be a complex and painstaking process, but with the right software and the right knowledge, there’s no need to shell out for expensive studio time when you can mix your tracks at home for a fraction of the cost.
When it comes to finding the right software, Logic Pro is an industry standard and therefore a reliable choice, but there are plenty of other options, including Pro Tools, Ableton or even GarageBand, which comes ready-installed on most Mac computers.
There are lots of fantastic resources across the web for amateur producers looking to hone their skills, or if you’re hoping for a more in-depth way to develop your production talents, there are plenty of hands-on courses too, focusing on a range of production software.
Recording software like Logic Pro can be easily purchased and installed on your own computer!
The home recording advice featured here is a basic guide for DIY musicians getting started with producing their own music. If you have any more useful tips or would like to expand on any of the points made above, please share them with us in the comments section!
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